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Lori Vallow Daybell sentenced to life in prison without parole in "doomsday mom" murder case

Lori Vallow Daybell sentenced to life in prison
Lori Vallow Daybell sentenced to life in prison 02:15

Lori Vallow Daybell, whose children's 2019 reported disappearance sparked a nationwide search before their bodies were discovered months later buried on her husband's Idaho property, was sentenced Monday to life in prison with no possibility of parole, the maximum sentence, in the murders of 16-year-old Tylee Ryan and 7-year-old Joshua "JJ" Vallow. 

In the weekslong trial that stretched from April into mid-May, she was also found guilty of conspiracy in their murders and the murder of her husband Chad's first wife, Tammy Daybell, along with grand theft related to the theft of Social Security payments for the children. 

She received life sentences without parole on the charges of murder in the deaths of JJ and Tylee and conspiracy to commit murder in the deaths of both children and Tammy Daybell, her ex-husband's first wife. Three of those sentences are to be served consecutively. She received a sentence of 10 years for the grand theft conviction and was also ordered to pay more than $60,000 in fines, civil penalties and restitution.

"You had so many other options. You could have gotten divorced; you could have found someone else to take care of those kids. And as the state was able to prove at trial, you chose the most evil and destructive path possible," said Judge Steven Boyce, before he imposed the sentence.

"You justified all of this by going down a bizarre religious rabbit hole, and clearly you are still down there," he said.

Witnesses had testified that Vallow Daybell and Chad Daybell had fringe religious beliefs, and Vallow Daybell had discussed casting out demons and her belief that people had been replaced by evil spirits, referring to them as "zombies."

Vallow Daybell, who did not testify in her own defense, elected to give a statement in Monday's hearing. 

Watch: Lori Vallow Daybell speaks, receives life sentence for murder of children 41:22

"Jesus Christ knows the truth of what happened here. Jesus Christ knows that no one was murdered in this case," she said.

She claimed to have communicated with the spirits of her murdered children and her "eternal friend" Tammy Daybell.

"I've had many communications with Jesus Christ, the savior of this world, and our heavenly parents. I've had many angelic visitors, who came and communicated to me, have even manifested to me. Because of these communications, I know for a fact that my children are happy and busy in the spirit world," she said. "Because of my communications with my friend Tammy Daybell, I know that she is also very happy and extremely busy."

Prosecutor Rob Wood had asked the court to sentence Vallow Daybell, 50, to life without parole, saying that society needs to be protected from a defendant who was willing to murder her own children. Defense attorney John Thomas asked the court to sentence Daybell to a fixed term of 20 years, with an indeterminate term of life for all five counts of murder and conspiracy to commit murder.

Lori Vallow Daybell: Guilty 41:01

Judge Steven Boyce had ruled that immediate family members of the victims could offer victim impact statements at the sentencing hearing, including Daybell's son Colby Ryan, who submitted a statement to be read into the record; Samantha Gwilliam, Tammy Daybell's sister; Tammy Daybell's aunt Vicki Hoban, and JJ Vallow's grandmother Kay Woodcock.

Gwilliam first read a statement from her father, Ronald Douglas, who wrote on behalf of himself; her mother, Phyllis, who died earlier this year; and Gwilliam, who had testified in the trial.

"She had been murdered by those who saw her as an obstacle to a plan — you planned her murder just as much as you planned the murders of your own children and your previous husband. Why? Why plan something so heinous?" she said in her own statement, her voice full of emotion. 

"Because of the choices you made, my family lost a beloved mother, sister, aunt and daughter. She is irreplaceable; she is 1,000 times the woman you will ever dream of being ... because of you and your desire to get what you want at any cost, my family has been ripped apart," she said.

Hoban, who spoke in depth about her niece, said that Vallow "turned her home, where she lived and slept, into a cemetery for two innocent and beautiful children is one of the most horrific things I could think of. Tammy would have been horrified to know what you've done." 

Kay Woodcock, Charles Vallow's sister and the biological grandmother of JJ Vallow, who was adopted by Charles and Lori Vallow, could be heard weeping during her statement. She called Vallow Daybell a "money-hungry, power-mongering monster." 

Woodcock said she would have given Vallow Daybell the $1 million from Vallow's life insurance if she had let Tylee and JJ live. Instead, Woodcock said, she did not ask.

Woodcock said Vallow Daybell was driven by greed and a need to be the center of attention.

"Lori is undeniably a monster. A monster that has not taken any responsibility or shown an ounce of remorse for her vile actions. She deserves to never again breathe oxygen as a member of a free society," she said.

Ryan testified against Vallow Daybell during the trial, and the jury heard an emotional jailhouse phone call of him confronting her about the children's murders. In his statement read to the court, he said "my siblings and father deserved so much more than this. I want them to be remembered for who they were, and not to be just a spectacle or headline to the world. Tylee was sweet and kind, funny and bold, and she deserves to be seen as such. JJ was the most fun, sweet and silly kid I've ever known — loving and so smart. He deserves to be seen as such."

The defense called no witnesses in the trial. Vallow Daybell had pleaded not guilty.

Some testimony centered on the extreme and apocalyptic religious beliefs of the couple, including in "zombies" and casting out of "evil spirits," while other witnesses recounted gruesome details of the children's deaths and burials. 

Photos of Tylee Ryan, JJ Vallow and Tammy Daybell

While Boyce blocked video recordings and live broadcast of the trial, the verdict was livestreamed. 

Vallow Daybell also faces separate charges in the July 2019 death of her husband, Charles Vallow, who was shot by her brother Alex Cox. Cox claimed he shot Vallow in self-defense and was not charged in the shooting. He died in December 2019, after the children had been reported missing but before their bodies were found on Chad Daybell's property. 

Vallow Daybell has been charged in Arizona with conspiracy to commit murder in his death. She has also been charged in Arizona for conspiracy for the 2019 attempted shooting of Brandon Boudreaux, who was married to Vallow Daybell's niece. Boudreaux testified in the Idaho trial.

The Maricopa County Attorney's Office told CBS News in May it would begin extradition proceedings following her sentencing in Idaho.

Chad Daybell sits during a court hearing
Chad Daybell during a hearing on Aug. 4, 2020, in St. Anthony, Idaho.  John Roark / The Idaho Post-Register via AP, Pool

Chad Daybell also faces first-degree murder and conspiracy charges in Idaho the deaths of Tammy Daybell and Vallow Daybell's children, but he waived his right to a speedy trial and is scheduled to be tried April 1, 2024. Unlike his wife, he faces the death penalty.

The two were not permitted to meet or coordinate their defense. 

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